Dear CKP Friends-
Today, October 18, is a sad day for all of us here at CKP –it marks the first anniversary of the death of Florenz Eisman, CKP’s Managing Editor and my partner in founding this press back in 1999, and we wanted to do something special to mark that occasion and celebrate her. We brainstormed events–short readings and stories from this year’s books along with multicolored balloons, funny stories, lots of laughter and delectable eats—just what she’d have ordered if she were still leading this parade. It would be a happy affair. Maybe we’d call it “In Living Color: A Tribute to Florenz Eisman” or “Florenz’ Red Lipstick: A Tribute” (her signature), and devote October on this blog to poems that remind us—all of us in the CKP community, and that includes all of you, our readers—of our lovely, smart, courageous, funny treasure Florenz.
But as delicious as such a tribute sounded it would not include the hundreds of people who live beyond our reach. We wanted you with us, so we decided on a more fitting tribute on our blog and newsletter which reach all of you.
Florenz took enormous pleasure from her work on our books. She was the managing editor of every CKP book published between its inception in 2000 and 2013—that’s 70 books!! Such an amazing statistic called for a special tribute which would feature poems from several of the books that she edited along the way. So…starting today and continuing through the 31st or well into November, we will showcase poems in Florenz’ honor. Each writer represented chose a poem of their own—from the book that Florenz worked on—and sent it to us, in many cases with a personal note to or about Florenz. We will publish one of these poems each day on our blog. We hope you will join us in this special tribute.
A special thank you to the poets who sent tributes. Your books were all so important to Florenz. She loved poetry; she loved CavanKerry, and she loved your poems.
I was always aware of how important Florenz was in my life and the life of CKP and that of our books, but it wasn’t until several years into the life of the press that I realized how important she was to the writers themselves. The first time Teresa Carson, CKP Associate Publisher, and I went to the AWP conference together, we met many CKP poets for the first time. We had been working together on their books for several years and had spoken to them on the phone, but we had met very few in person because our writers come from across the US. On that first day, as Teresa and I struggled to stabilize a poster showcasing many of these same writers, and for the next four days, as we met and talked with visitors to our booth, we were virtually deluged with writers asking if either of us we were Florenz. The drop in tone as we answered, “no, I’m Joan” or “no, I’m Teresa,” was not lost on us. Florenz was the CKP person that these writers felt connected to. She bore their “child” from acceptance through to publication. She listened and assuaged the anxiety of each of them as they went through the process of delivering their ‘child’. She was the midwife. They wanted to meet and to thank her.
When we got home, we told her about her celebrity status and teased her that she was the heroine and we were ‘chopped liver.’
But Florenz’ imprint on CKP and the world of readers and writers, we feel, also calls for a more permanent tribute to accompany this banquet of poems. Since we are located in NJ and are supported by the NJ Council on the Arts, CKP traditionally says “thank you” by publishing one book by a New Jersey writer every 12 to 18 months. From this moment on, we will name this book for Florenz and establish the Florenz Eisman Memorial NJ Collection, the first of which will appear in the fall, 2016-spring, 2017 season. As always, it will be selected from open submissions. An avid reader of all literature, a gifted writer herself, and the godmother of all 70 CavanKerry books, Florenz’ imprint will last as long as CKP does. We can think of no better way to honor our beloved friend.